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Sunday June 29, 2003, 05:40

Funny. It has been a long time since I've actually had opportunity to be awake when the sun starts its rise into the sky, splashing color across the darkness of night. Pretty soon, the lights will start going off, first scattered across the city and then, suddenly, the world will be awake, even if its occupants aren't.

And here I am, watching dumbly, having fallen dead asleep on the bed (with guests over no less!) and having woken up stubbornly not wanting to go back to sleep. It's summertime, you see, and summer is a time that is to be savored, day and night. The opposite argument might be that summertime is a time of carefree relaxation, where one (and to that end, I) should not feel the burden of waking up to the responsibility of anything other than the obligation to go back to sleep when night finally arrives.

I, on the other hand, am taking this opportunity to remember everything it is about this city that I love in the summer (not including the sweat -- the sweat really doesn't do it for me, but if it means I have to endure sweat in exchange for the rest of the package then bring it on) including, but no limited to: women in less and tighter clothing, people eating on sidewalks on every street corner at all times of the day, air conditioning and smiling. This is, of course, the abbreviated version of the list that is constantly being revised in my head, but it does give the basic idea.

The thing about New York in the summer is that it gets so hot that most people just turn of their brains and, accordingly, a portion of their New York attitudes. This is not, by any means, to say that New Yorkers might suddenly become confused with Bay Area Residents, but it does mean that, as a people, the city becomes a bit more enjoyable. I have no scientific evidence to back this up, and as anyone who has had to march into the inferno that is the MTA's subway system when the fans aren't working knows, the citizens of this fine city can be as pushy and as grumpy as ever. And yet people wear more white in the summer, and they line up for ice cream and wear sun glasses and they remember that there are large patches of greenery around the city in which to sit and watch dogs catch frisbees. Or girls lie under trees. Or any of the various other pieces of eye candy that tend to come out when being outside becomes less of a means of getting from a to be and more of a destination in its own right.

Now, there are three factors that are leading to this renewed interest in a season up until this point in my life I had regarded with disgust and a "get over it already" attitude. The first is that I completely missed summer last summer. I spend the summery-est days in Edinburgh which, while lovely, was also particularly rainy, reminding me again why the Scottish are such fine drinkers. With the pubs staying open far later than in London and later even still than normally (what with the roving bands of thespians roaming the streets for the Fringe festival), the nightly activity would either be to drink or to sleep, or more likely both and in that order (though not necessarily). And back in London, the closest we ever came to summer was one day when I think it got hot, as opposed to the mild warm dashed with rain that one might come to expect from an English summer. And so now I feel that I am back in the bosom of my youth, remembering days at the pool and camp and absolutely no school at all.

The second factor would be the fact that I am still able to work from home, which means that I not only get air conditioning but I do not have to leave the house if ever I feel that the day is getting to unbearably hot. I also get the ability to be one of the people who seem to occupy the city's eating establishments at times typically reserved for people to be at offices. Which doesn't mean that I don't have to work, but just that I can "schedule my own time" or "procrastinate until I have to work through the night." And while I don't get the satisfaction of being able to play hooky being that I will know exactly where I have gone if I don't show up at my desk in the morning, I think that it is an enviable position to be in.

And finally, the two most powerful symbols of summer have entered my life this year, which really drive home the whole "summer" sentiment to me. The first is that the apartment now sports a portable-yet-full-sized propane grill which means that the sizzle of a burger (meat or veggie) on a hot summer day is no farther than the grill and the wait no longer than the time it takes for me to fire up the gas and fetch some patties from the 'fridge. And the second is that there is a pool on the roof of this building that I have joined and of which I plan on taking full advantage (especially given factor number two above; namely that I work from home and can take "swim breaks" if I determine that it would be in my productivity's best interest to do so).

And so I look back out at the city, now a lighter shade of blue and a little bit noisier. The garbage trucks are rumbling down the street, the taxi cabs continue about their business and the night lights have been all but extinguished. The forecast calls for another day in the 80s. Sounds like a swimming day to me.

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